The Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre) commemorates the International Human Rights Day 2020 themed “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”.
While we demand equal opportunities for the vulnerable groups, especially women and girls whose livelihoods are threatened with exacerbated socio-economic burden caused by the austere impact of Covid-19 pandemic at all levels, we recall that African women have been historically disadvantaged by socio-economic conditions, culture, societal practices that render many women incapacitated to own a land and property that are frequently required as collateral for bank loan, and venture capital.
While women constitute about 50% of the Nigerian population out of which about 35% are involved in any sort of entrepreneurial activity which can be classifies as micro, small, medium and large enterprises, female-headed households also known “rightholders” constitute 14.6%, as reported by the World Bank in 2015.
With a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics revealing that more than 50% of Nigerians in rural areas live below poverty line, the magnitude of poverty is well pronounced among female-headed households which are mostly the vulnerable and socio-economic deprived group.
Reports from various engagements by MAMA Centre disclose unequal access to factors of production in several communities in Nigeria, where less than 20% of women own farmlands and less than 5% have access to agricultural credits to enhance productivity and income. Fulfilling the most basic needs by poor households remains a serious daily struggle, just as they lack productive resources.
Given the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, right holders’ family budgets are reviewed downwards several times below humanly tolerable levels, as poverty constrained them from providing the basic needs of the household members. Consequently, girl child education is hampered with increasing cases of marginalised girls dropping out of schools.
We observed hitherto that Covid-19 pandemic without adequate and appropriate inclusive policy measures has largely amplified the existing socio-economic and financial burdens on the women population in all spheres—especially the female-headed households, which are already rendered incapacitated to provide for themselves and their dependant families. This is coupled with the incessant physical and emotional abuses that women including the rights-holders endure in their various homes and communities.
We on this note condemn in totality the secretive moves by some organisations and business entities resulting in sacking, demotion and extortion of personnel mostly women of employment benefits in guise of unfair measures to ease financial impacts of Covid-19.
Despite these challenges, we are concerned that many Nigerian women suffer all forms of degrading treatments from abusive relationship and ill-thought government policies enforced by security agents at all levels.
We demand total respect and protection for the dignity of marginalised women who lack the financial capacity to contain the burdens of Covid-19 pandemic, as they work to provide for themselves and families.
We call for increased policy environment to secure rights, equality and dignity of women and girls in all spheres through sincere political commitment towards sustainable women empowerment to encourage self-reliance and socio-economic self-sustainability of women including rightholders.
We call on government at all level to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 pandemic on women and help girls return to school, while ensuring gender-inclusive educational planning.
We further call on organisations and businesses to in spirit of patriotism shun action or decision that would be analogous to exacerbating women unemployment rate and severe socio-economic consequences in the country.
Executive Director, MAMA Centre